I was one of those that thought the band Manticora would be hard pressed to top their last two releases The Black Circus Pt. 1 and The Black Circus Pt. 2. Boy was I wrong! Maybe it is all the touring with Jon Oliva and Zak Stevens but with the new album Safe Manticora has established themselves as one of the premier European progressive acts. This disc is filled with a plethora of searing metal of epic proportions.
It is easily their most complete work and one that delivers on every aspect. The whole band has turned it up more than a few notches and this blast of power/progressive metal is getting very near what you could call perfection. Vocalist Lars Larsen has never sounded better and the duel guitar attack of Martin Arendal and Kristian Larsen are absolutely astounding as they are finally let loose to wreck havoc on the listener.
"In The Abyss Of Desperation" starts you on this amazing metal journey that is such a great combination of soaring epic and melodic music it may overwhelm you the first time you hear it. Always having a heavy backdrop the band takes off with some of the most tantalizing work I have heard this year. They are not afraid to draw from whatever genre they want and that gives this album a "no boundaries" type of feel. From epic power metal, to heady progressive, they throw everything at you. I even heard a little death metal growl and a hint of keyboard. The beginning of "Silence Of Freedom has an 80's bluesy heavy metal feel before they turn you on your ear with the many twist and turns of this song alone.
Masterful guitar work is a highlight throughout the album with the solo in the song "Complete" being just one example along with the grandiose intro to "From The Pain Of Loss (I Learned About The Truth) being another where the pair of six sting slingers show just how much of a force they can be. This is just two stand out moments of many that are on this disc. This is by far the best I have ever heard them and even if it took seven albums to get here it was worth the wait.
The album ends with the 14 minute title track "Safe (A Miracle/Fading/The End)". Encompassing everything that makes this band so good, this song takes you from one end of the spectrum to the other in the Manticora songbook. It is simply one of the most vivid pieces of music to hit the ears. This is an epic work that should put Manticora at the top of the musical heap. While they have proved to be one of the very good bands out there, this one shows the maturity, dedication to their art and the willingness to explore new territory that culminates in one of the best albums I have heard period. It is easily one that needs to be in any progressive metalhead's collection. It doesn't get much better than this!
1. In The Abyss Of Depression
2. Silence The Freedom
4. From The Pain Of Loss (I Learned About The Truth)
5. A Lake That Drained
6. Carrion Eater
7. Safe (A Miracle/Fading/The End)